|words by F LoBuono|
Vigilance. It's a word I use frequently; some suggest, perhaps, too much so. However, by the very nature of the word, vigilance, the implication is to repeat it, over and over, until a battle is won while still knowing the war is certainly not over.
Here's a case in point. After MUCH debate, and with great anticipation, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), during their annual Council meeting, voted to amend their constitution to allow openly gay young men to join so-called Scouting. Of course, the concept of this created great angst within the organization in the first place. Most Scouting chapters are sponsored by conservative Christian organizations. With this in mind, in must have been anathema to even think of allowing gay young men into Scouting! And, of course, this became part of the debate - and rightly so. The only way to achieve lasting change is for all POV's to be heard and for them to be openly discussed before a consensus is reached. Interestingly, and VERY importantly, the great majority of those arguing for complete inclusion and against the status quo were the Scouts themselves. It seems that when the votes were tallied, the measure to amend their constitution was carried in large part by young people with new, more open attitudes! In the end, they had no issue with another Scout's sexual orientation, so long as they were good Scouts and people. How refreshing is that? So, there is hope! However, in a dose of reality, the Council also voted NOT to allow openly gay ADULTS to serve as Scout Troop Leaders. SEE. This is what I mean: Vigilance. A battle has been won, but not the war. Vigilance.
Some may ask, isn't it enough that you have at least won that battle? Well, NO, it's not enough! And it won't be until all prejudice, and the hate that goes with it, is eliminated. The same week that the BSA announced their landmark decision, there were at least two cases of EXTREME violence against gay men in NYC alone. In one case, a gay man was beaten so badly he may lose sight in one eye. And, in the other, most tragic case, a gay man was shot dead - shot in the face - by a man he had befriended. The motivation in each case was hate - hate because they were seen as different by their attackers. Why? Because, even in the case of mental illness on the part of the perpetrators, the root of the attack was to destroy what is different, what they can't or won't understand. These seeds of hate are planted by society itself. If we sow the seeds of misunderstanding, mistrust, and misanthropy, we will have to deal with crimes of intense violence all the days of our lives. If we plant the seeds of acceptance and justice we will reap the benefits of a benevolent, inclusive society.
So, yes, friends, I say it yet again: vigilance. We have made progress, but we ain't there yet.